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Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Logo

Ballpark:
Target Field
Established:
1961
Affiliations:
AAA Rochester Red Wings, AA New Britain Rock Cats, Advanced A Fort Myers Miracle, A Beloit Snappers
Retired Numbers:
3, 6, 14, 29, 34, 42
Owners:
Jim Pohlad
Manager:
General Manager:
Played As:
MIN, WS1

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are an American professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome from 1982 to 2009. They played their inaugural game at the newly completed Target Field on April 12, 2010.

The team was founded in Kansas City in 1894 as a Western League team and would move to Washington, D.C., in 1901 as one of the eight original teams of the American League, named the Washington Senators or Washington Nationals. Although the Washington team endured long bouts of mediocrity (immortalized in the Broadway musical Damn Yankees), they had a period of prolonged success in the 1920s and 1930s, led by Hall-of-Famers Bucky Harris, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, Joe Cronin, and above all Walter Johnson. Manager Clark Griffith joined the team in 1912 and became the team's owner in 1920. The franchise remained under Griffith family ownership until 1984.

In 1960, Major League Baseball granted the city of Minneapolis an expansion team. Washington owner Calvin Griffith, Clark's nephew and adopted son, requested that he be allowed to move his team to Minneapolis and instead give Washington the expansion team. Upon league approval, the team moved to Minnesota after the 1960 season, setting up shop in Metropolitan Stadium, while Washington fielded a brand new "Washington Senators" (which later became the Texas Rangers prior to the 1972 season).

Success came quickly to the team in Minnesota. Sluggers Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison, who had already been stars in Washington, were joined by Tony Oliva and Zoilo Versalles, and later second baseman Rod Carew and pitchers Jim Kaat and Jim Perry, winning the American League pennant in 1965. A second wave of success came in the late 1980s and early 1990s, led by Kent Hrbek, Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola, and Kirby Puckett, winning the franchise's second and third World Series (and first in Minnesota).

Through the 2010 season, the franchise has won three World Series championships (1924, 1987, and 1991), and has fielded 18 American League batting champions.

Washington Nationals/Senators: 1901–1960

For a time, from 1911 to 1933, the Washington Senators were one of the more successful franchises in major-league baseball. The team's rosters included Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, Joe Cronin, Bucky Harris, Heinie Manush and one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Walter Johnson.

In the 1924 World Series, the Senators defeated the New York Giants in seven games. The following season, they repeated as American League champions but ultimately lost the 1925 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. After Walter Johnson’s retirement in 1927, he was hired as manager of the Senators. After enduring a few losing seasons, the team returned to contention in 1930. In 1933, Senators owner Clark Griffith returned to the formula that worked for him nine years before, and 26-year-old shortstop Joe Cronin became player-manager. The Senators posted a 99–53 record and cruised to the pennant seven games ahead of the New York Yankees, but in the 1933 World Series the Giants exacted their revenge, winning in five games. Following the loss, the Senators sank all the way to seventh place in 1934, and attendance began to fall. Despite the return of Harris as manager from 1935–42 and again from 1950–54, Washington was mostly a losing ball club for the next 25 years, contending for the pennant only during World War II. Washington came to be known as "first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League", with their hard luck being crucial to the plot of the musical and film Damn Yankees. In 1954, the Senators signed future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. By 1959, he was the Senators’ regular third baseman, leading the league with 42 home runs and earning a starting spot on the American League All-Star team.

After Griffith's death in 1955, his nephew and adopted son Calvin took over the team presidency. He sold Griffith Stadium to the city of Washington and leased it back, leading to speculation that the team was planning to move, as the Boston Braves, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics had all done in the early 1950s. By 1957, after an early flirtation with San Francisco (where the New York Giants would eventually move after that season ended), Griffith began courting Minneapolis-St. Paul, a prolonged process that resulted in his rejecting the Twin Cities' first offer before agreeing to relocate. The American League opposed the move at first, but in 1960 a deal was reached: The Senators would move and would be replaced with an expansion Senators team for 1961. Thus, the old Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.

Team nickname

The Washington franchise was known as both "Senators" and "Nationals" at various times, and sometimes at the same time. In 1905, the team changed its official name to the "Washington Nationals." The name "Nationals" appeared on uniforms for only two seasons, and was then replaced with the "W" logo for the next 52 years. The media often shortened the nickname to "Nats." Many fans and newspapers (especially out-of-town papers) persisted in using the "Senators" nickname. Over time, "Nationals" faded as a nickname, and "Senators" became dominant. Baseball guides listed the club's nickname as "Nationals or Senators," acknowledging the dual-nickname situation.

The team name was officially changed to Washington Senators around the time of Clark Griffith's death. It was not until 1959 that the word "Senators" first appeared on team shirts. "Nats" continued to be used by space-saving headline writers, even for the 1961 expansion team, which was never officially known as "Nationals."

Minnesota Twins: 1961 to present

The name "Twins" was derived from the popular name of the region, the Twin Cities. The NBA's Minneapolis Lakers had re-located to Los Angeles in 1960 due to poor attendance which was believed to have been caused in part by the reluctance of fans in St. Paul to support the team. Griffith was determined not to alienate fans in either city by naming the team after one city or the other, so his desire was to name the team the "Twin Cities Twins", however MLB objected. Griffith therefore named the team the Minnesota Twins. However, the team was allowed to keep its original "TC" (for Twin Cities) insignia for its caps. The team's logo shows two men, one in a Minneapolis Millers uniform and one in a St. Paul Saints uniform, shaking hands across the Mississippi River. The "TC" remained on the Twins' caps until 1987, when they adopted their current uniforms. By this time, the team felt it was established enough to put an "M" on its cap without having St. Paul fans think it stood for Minneapolis. The "TC" logo was moved to a sleeve on the jerseys, and occasionally appeared as an alternate cap design. Both the "TC" and "Minnie & Paul" logos remain the team's primary insignia. As of 2010, the "TC" logo is on the cap as their cap logo.

1960s

The Twins were eagerly greeted in Minnesota when they arrived in 1961. They brought a nucleus of talented players: Killebrew, Bob Allison, Camilo Pascual, Zoilo Versalles, Jim Kaat, Earl Battey, and Lenny Green. The Twins won 91 games in 1962, the most by the franchise since 1933. The Twins won 102 games and the American League Pennant in 1965, but they were defeated in the 1965 World Series by the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games (behind the World Series Most Valuable Player, Sandy Koufax, with a 2–1 record, including winning the seventh game).

Heading into the final weekend of the season in 1967, the Twins, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers all had a shot at clinching the American League championship. The Twins and the Red Sox started the weekend tied for 1st place and played against each other in Boston for the final three games of the season. The Red Sox won two out of the three games, seizing their first pennant since 1946 with a 92–70 record. The Twins and Tigers both finished one game back, with 91–71 records, while the White Sox finished three games back, at 89–73. In 1969, the new manager of the Twins, Billy Martin, pushed aggressive base running all-around, and Rod Carew set the all-time Major League record by stealing home seven times. These 1969 Twins won the very first American League Western Division Championship, but they lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the first American League Championship Series. This same situation was also repeated during their 1970 season, with the Twins winning the Western Division behind the star pitching of Jim Perry (24 -12) and the Orioles winning the Eastern Division Championship behind the star pitching of Jim Palmer. Once again, the Orioles won the A.L. Championship Series.

1970s

After winning the division again in 1970, the team entered an eight-year dry spell, finishing around the .500 mark. Killebrew departed after 1974. Owner Calvin Griffith faced financial difficulty with the start of free agency, costing the Twins the services of Lyman Bostock and Larry Hisle, who left as free agents after the 1977 season, and Carew, who was traded after the 1978 season.

1980s–90s

In the early 1980s, the Twins moved into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which they shared with the Minnesota Vikings, but the team continued to struggle. In 1984, Griffith sold the Twins to multi-billionaire banker/financier Carl Pohlad. The Metrodome hosted the 1985 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. After several losing seasons, the team, led by Kent Hrbek, Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven, Jeff Reardon, and rising star Kirby Puckett, returned to the World Series, defeating the Tigers in the ALCS. Tom Kelly managed the Twins to World Series victories over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 and the Atlanta Braves in 1991. Twins' pitcher Jack Morris was the star of the series in 1991. 1991 marked the first time that any team that finished in last place the previous year advanced to the World Series. (The Atlanta Braves also did this in 1991, in the National League.)

The World Series in 1991 is regarded by many as one of the classics of all time. In this Series, four games were won during the teams' final at-bat, and three of these were in extra innings. The Atlanta Braves won all three of their games in Atlanta, and the Twins won all four of their games in Minnesota. The seventh game was tied 0–0 after the regulation nine innings, and marked only the second time that the seventh game of the World Series had ever gone into extra innings.The Twins won by scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th inning, and Morris had pitched a shutout for all ten innings against the Braves.

After a winning season in 1992, the Twins fell into a years-long stretch of mediocrity, posting a losing record each year for the next eight years: 71–91 in 1993, 50–63 in 1994, 56–88 in 1995, 78–84 in 1996, 68–94 in 1997, 70–92 in 1998, 63–97 in 1999 and 69–93 in 2000. From 1994 to 1997, a long sequence of retirements and injuries hurt the team badly, and Tom Kelly spent the remainder of his managerial career attempting to rebuild the Twins. In 1997, owner Carl Pohlad almost sold the Twins to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who would have moved the team to the Piedmont Triad area.

2000s

Justin Morneau, drafted in 1999 by the Twins, won the AL MVP award in 2006.

The Twins dominated the Central Division in the first decade of the new century, winning the division in six of those ten years ('02, '03, '04, '06, '09 and '10). From 2001 to 2006, the Twins compiled the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons since moving to Minnesota.

Threatened with closure by league contraction, the 2002 team battled back to reach the American League Championship Series before being eliminated 4–1 by that year's World Series champion Anaheim Angels.

2006 season

In 2006, the Twins won the division on the last day of the regular season (the only day all season they held sole possession of first place) but lost to the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. Ozzie Guillén coined a nickname for this squad, calling the Twins "little piranhas". The Twins players embraced the label, and in response, the Twins Front office started a "Piranha Night", with pirhana finger puppets given out to the first 10,000 fans. Scoreboard operators sometimes played an animated sequence of piranhas munching under that caption in situations where the Twins were scoring runs playing "small ball", and the stadium vendors sold tee-shirts and hats advertising "The Little Piranhas". The Twins also had the AL MVP in Justin Morneau, the AL batting champion in Joe Mauer, and the AL Cy Young Award winner in Johan Santana.

2008 season

In 2008, the Twins finished the regular season tied with the White Sox, forcing a one-game playoff in Chicago to determine the division champion. The Twins lost that game and missed the playoffs. The game location was determined by rule of a coin flip that was conducted in mid-September . This rule was changed for the start of the 2009 season, making the site for any tiebreaker game to be determined by the winner of the regular season head-to-head record between the teams involved.

2009 season

After a mediocre year where the Twins played .500 baseball for most of the season, they won 17 of their last 21 games to tie the Detroit Tigers for the lead in the Central Division. The Twins were able to use the play-in game rule to their advantage when they won the AL Central at the end of the regular season and winning a 12-inning tiebreaker on a walk-off hit by Alexi Casilla. However, they failed to advance to the American League Championship Series as they lost the American League Divisional Series in three straight games to the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees. That year Joe Mauer became only the second catcher in 33 years to win the AL MVP award (Iván Rodríguez won for the Texas Rangers in 1999, previous to that, the last catcher to win an AL MVP was the New York Yankees Thurman Munson in 1976).

2010 season

In their inaugural season played at Target Field, the Twins finished the regular season with a record of 94 wins and 68 losses, clinching the AL Central Division title for the 6th time in 9 years under manager Ron Gardenhire. New regular players included rookie Danny Valencia at third base, designated hitter Jim Thome, closer Matt Capps, infielder J.J. Hardy, and infielder Orlando Hudson. In relief pitching roles were late additions Brian Fuentes and Randy Flores. On, 7 July, the team suffered a major blow when Justin Morneau suffered a concussion, which knocked him out for the rest of the season. In the divisional series, the Twins lost to the Yankees in a 3 game sweep for the second consecutive year. Following the season, Ron Gardenhire finally received AL Manager of the Year honors after finishing as a runner up in several prior years.

Threatened contraction or re-location of the team

The quirks of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, including the turf floor and the white roof, gave the Twins a significant home-field advantage that played into their winning the World Series in both 1987 and 1991, at least in the opinion of their opponents, as the Twins went 12–1 in post season home games during those two seasons. These were the first two World Series in professional baseball history in which a team won the championship by winning all four home games. (The feat has since been repeated once, by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.) Nevertheless, the Twins argued that the Metrodome was obsolete and that the lack of a dedicated baseball-only ballpark limited team revenue and made it difficult to sustain a top-notch, competitive team. The team was rumored to contemplate moving to such places as New Jersey, Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon, the Raleigh–Durham area, and elsewhere in search of a more financially competitive market. In 2002, the team was nearly disbanded when Major League Baseball selected the Twins and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals franchise) for elimination due to their financial weakness relative to other franchises in the league.

The impetus for league contraction diminished after a court decision forced the Twins to play out their lease on the Metrodome. However, the Twins continued their efforts to relocate, pursuing litigation against the Metropolitan Stadium Commission and obtaining a state court ruling that they were not obligated to play in the Metrodome after the 2006 season. This cleared the way for the Twins to either be relocated or disbanded prior to the 2007 season if a new deal was not reached.

 
 
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